People on low incomes bear brunt of housing crisis: it’s time to act

We’re used to hearing about the housing crisis. Most often discussion focuses on the difficulties faced by people who expected to be able to buy but can’t afford a deposit.

The collapse in rates of home-ownership is certainly concerning, not least because it raises the prospect of future generations having to keep renting through retirement, risking a rise in pensioner poverty. New Conservative think-tank Onward yesterday called for action to redress the balance between the rented sector and home-ownership.

That is one part of the picture, but there is a growing consensus that no part of the housing crisis can be seen in isolation.For poverty today, the more pressing issue is the rise in housing costs for working-age people on low incomes. Most were always unlikely to be able to afford to buy a home but used to be able to access low-cost social rented housing. That helped to prevent them being swept into hardship by the vagaries of the housing market.The IFS last week revealed how much that protection has been eroded – and the extent to which people on low incomes are locked into difficulties as a result.

Since 2002/3, average housing costs for low-income families with children have risen four times faster than costs for middle-income families. Housing costs for families with children in the poorest fifth of population have risen by nearly half (47%) in the last fifteen years. At the same time, the protection given by housing benefit has been weakened. Many low-income families find that their housing costs are no longer covered by housing benefit; housing costs not covered by housing benefit have risen by 80% for those in the poorest fifth.

To read this full article from Joseph Rowntree Foundation please click here

Book your place NOW at the Community-led Housing Conference

Community-led Housing Conference

Tuesday 25th September – 09:45-14:30

Join us to hear more about how local people can play a leading and lasting role in solving local housing problems, creating genuinely affordable homes and strong communities in ways that are difficult to achieve through mainstream housing. The Agenda will explore the transformational potential of Community Led housing and the practicalities of achieving a successful project, from finance and governance to community engagement.

This event will be of interest to community housing groups, district and county councillors, planning, housing and community development officers, neighbourhood planning groups, developers, land agents, architects – and anyone involved or interested in the promotion and planning of community-led housing projects.

The event is being coordinated by Community First Oxfordshire on behalf of the Rural Community Councils in the Thames Valley: Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire.

The event will take place near High Wycombe at Radnage Village Hall, 2 Green Lane, Radnage HP14 4DD. A light lunch will be provided. If you have any specific dietary requirements, please highlight them when you complete your booking form.

Speaking at the event will be:

Ted Stevens (SEAFA Consulting + founding chair of the National Custom and Self-Build Association)

Charlie Fisher (Transition by Design)

Fran Ryan (Oxfordshire Community Land Trust)

Fiona Mullins (Community First Oxfordshire)

Anthony Probert (Bioregional)

This event is an opportunity to:

  • Find out more about the role of community led housing in meeting housing needs
  • Discuss recent developments in the field
  • Develop the relationships needed to deliver these projects

The event is FREE to attend but booking is essential. Please click this link to book a place:

This is one of a series of training events funded by the Nationwide Foundation and led by Action with Communities in Rural England. For further information on the event, please email or call 01865 883488.


Families hit by crippling cost of living need a third more income to make ends meet

Article by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation

Latest research by Joseph Rowntree Foundation reveals how low-income families need a third more disposable income than a decade ago to make ends meet and are facing bigger barriers to meet rising costs – despite tightening their belts and shopping around online for better deals and tariffs.

Families hit by crippling cost of living need a third more income to make ends meet
The rising cost of transport, childcare and energy have restricted and restrained people who are struggling to get by, according to a decade of authoritative living standards research for the independent Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF).

The Minimum Income Standard (MIS), carried out by the Centre for Research in Social Policy at Loughborough University, acts as a barometer of living standards in the UK. It is based on what members of the public think we all need to achieve a decent minimum living standard, regularly updated as society and the economy changes.

A calculator allows the public to see the earnings different households need to reach MIS, according to members of the public. A single person needs to earn £18,400 a year to reach MIS; each parent in a working couple with two children needs to earn £20,000. A lone parent with a pre-school child must earn £28,450.

Since 2008, the cost of a minimum ‘basket’ of goods and services has risen by 35% for a single working-age adult without children, by 30% for a couple with two children and by 50% for a pensioner couple, compared to a 25% increase in the Consumer Prices Index (CPI). The types of goods and services required for a minimum living standard have remained broadly the same, but the cost and how people buy them has changed:

  • The cost of getting around. Public transport has become much more expensive and bus services have been cut. As a consequence, transport costs take up nearly a fifth of minimum household budgets. Bus travel is 65% more expensive in 2018 than in 2008. Members of the public say you need to be prepared to travel further to work and to make more use of taxis when public transport is not an option. For a single person, the minimum transport budget has risen from £17 to £37 a week.
  • The weekly food shop. On average the cost of food rose by just over a quarter between 2008 and 2018, but a minimum food budget for a single person rose from £29 to £44 a week, a rise of just over 50%.
  • Energy bills are over 40% higher than a decade ago, putting pressure on household budgets, despite the internet making it easier to shop around for better tariffs and more energy-efficient lighting making rises less steep for some households. If you work with the vulnerable or people on low incomes and would like some assistance advising them on how to save money on their energy bills please get in touch with our Energy Advisor Helen –
  • Childcare costs have risen sharply. The average price of a full-time nursery place for a two-year-old is now £229 a week, having risen by well over 50% since 2008. The government’s emphasis on early years development is reflected in parents saying, unlike in 2008, that families should have the choice of nursery care for their pre-school children, rather than only being able to afford a childminder.
  • Technology is increasingly important as part of day-to-day life. People are spending less today on technology and are more connected than they were ten years ago. Broadband, a basic laptop and smartphone cost £8 a week today for a single working-age person, compared to £9.50 for a landline telephone and a pay-as-you-go mobile in 2008, despite inflation of 25%. Technology is also reducing minimum costs by enabling people to shop online and make price comparisons.

To read the rest of this article by the Joseph Rowntree Founcation please click here.

Penny Post – a local free community website & newsletter

Penny Post is a free community website and newsletter serving West Berkshire, Wantage, Swindon, Marlborough and surrounding areas.

Penny Post is compiled by East Garston resident Penny Locke (sometimes helped and sometimes hindered by her husband Brian Quinn) and covers an area roughly centred on Junction 14 of the M4 – from Wantage to Marlborough, and from Hungerford to Thatcham. Penny has been writing her weekly e-newsletter for over 10 years. Whereas traditional media boosts sales through broadcasting bad and often sensational news, Penny is committed to sharing positive, local ‘news you can use’ and is reassured by the popularity of Penny Post that this is what people really want. We at CCB receive it and really enjoy reading about some great examples of community groups and areas coming together to achieve positive change.

Penny Post has been involved in a number of local campaigns on issues ranging from pub closures to planning appeals, from urgent charity appeals to public meetings and from dubious sewage works to threatened libraries and post offices. A couple of articles that we would like to drawer the attention of our CCB readers to are:

A useful article on Neighbourhood Development Plans

A Week in the Life of Hungerford Town Clerk Claire Barnes

Great Shefford Flood Alleviation Association:


How can I subscribe for free to the Penny Post newsletters?
To join over 3,700 other Penny Post subscribers, click on the ‘Subscribe’ link here to receive the Penny Post newsletter by email each week.

They don’t pass on details to third parties and you can opt out whenever you wish, so don’t delay, sign up today!

Online Survey Launched: NHS East Berkshire Clinical Commissioning Group

NHS East Berkshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) launches an online survey as part of its drive to engage with local people about what matters to them when they require urgent care. The survey will run from 10 July – 6 August.

Urgent care services are for people who have an injury or illness that needs attention the same day, but it is not life-threatening or life changing. These services are currently provided by a number of health professionals, including GPs, nurses, paramedics, pharmacists and others.

The CCG has had a busy few weeks talking to over 280 local people at meetings, online via two ‘Cover It Live’ sessions and by visiting local community groups. These early conversations are designed to ensure that patients and local residents are involved from the beginning in influencing how services should be developed.

The survey launches the second phase of the ‘Big conversation’ around urgent care. The survey has been designed to give local people an idea of some of the things we have heard already and test their views.

The survey can be accessed by using the following link:

The insights from these conversations and the survey will inform what services could look like in the future.

Dr Adrian Hayter, Locality Lead for Windsor, Ascot & Maidenhead, said: “It’s really important for local people to be part of this journey to help us transform the future of urgent care in East Berkshire. We need local people to share their experiences and tell us what matters to them when they have an urgent care need.

He added: “I would like to reassure the people of East Berkshire that their feedback will be taken into account in developing options for the future. If we need to proceed to a formal consultation stage before making any changes, we will do so later in the autumn.”

More information can be found on the East Berkshire CCG website: